Report: Russian Military May Return to Afghanistan Border

Russian Military Exercises AFP

Russia may redeploy military troops to Tajikistan’s border with Afghanistan in response to the deteriorating security situation afflicting the Afghan people less than a year since President Obama declared an end to the U.S. combat mission.

Citing an article from the Russian newspaper Kommersant, Khaama Press reports that a source close to the secretary general of the Russia-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) said the deployment of Russian forces to the Afghanistan-Tajikistan border is not unlikely.

“The Russian forces may return once they receive a request from the government of Tajikistan,” adds Khaama Press.

According to the CSTO source, Tajikistan has only requested technical assistance so far.

“Russia is mulling the deployment of forces on Tajikistan’s border with Afghanistan amid fears that the security situation of Central Asia could deteriorate, specifically Tajikistan’s security,” reports Khaama Press, adding:

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov expressed concerns regarding threats posed to Tajikistan from the South due to deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan amid presence of terrorist groups and emergence of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) loyalists.

ISIS-linked jihadists are looking to infiltrate Tajikistan from Afghanistan, sources reportedly said.

On September 11, Reuters reported that Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to offer violence-stricken Tajikistan help during a visit to the Tajik capital Dushanbe this week.

Putin arrived in Dushanbe on Monday ahead of a CSTO summit.

Yuri Ushakov, the Kremlin’s top foreign policy aide, told reporters on Friday that Putin would meet with Tajik President Imomali Rakhmon.

“We are ready to provide assistance one way or another, as well as political support, and I think this matter will be one of the key ones during talks,” Ushakov told reporters.

When asked if Russia would offer military assistance to Tajikistan, Ushakov said, “I don’t know in what way the discussion will develop.”

Moscow has a military base in Tajikistan and is concerned that instability there could intensify following the expected withdrawal of U.S.-led international troops from neighboring Afghanistan.

Russia is also reportedly worried that ISIS-linked violence in the Middle East could spill over to the Central Asian region.

“The Russian forces were providing security assistance to Tajikistan’s border with Afghanistan until 2005 but the Tajik forces took control of the security afterwards,” notes Khaama Press.

“Bloody gun battles killed 22 people in Tajikistan this month, stoking fears of religious-related unrest in the impoverished ex-Soviet state, a close Russian ally,” adds Reuters.

In December 2014, President Obama declared an end to the U.S. combat mission in Afghanistan, which began in October 2007.

Afghan civilians and security forces have suffered a record number of casualties during a Taliban resurgence that has gained strength since the U.S. ended its combat mission.

“If after 13 years and so much blood and treasure invested in Afghanistan, we cannot be honest with ourselves about our successes and failures, we are not only leaving the Afghans in a precarious position, but also putting our entire mission there at risk,” the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), a watchdog agency appointed by Congress, said last Thursday.


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